The Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions spends about $12 million a year, yet the City’s vagrancy problem worsens, with numbers rising and the city trying to find ways to clean up accumulating debris.
Where is this money going, and is it being wasted?
One of the largest expenses within the Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) is “emergency rental assistance for people with AIDS.”
As part of the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, the City spent $4.45 million during the 2021-22 fiscal year to “provide financial assistance and staff costs for emergency short-term rent/mortgage/utility assistance and long-term tenant-based rental assistance to persons with HIV/AIDS and their families who live in the Dallas eligible metropolitan area.”
This program is backed by the federal government, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers grants to cities through the HOPWA program.
As part of HOPWA, the Office of Homeless Solutions also spent $2.64 million during FY21-22 on “facility-based housing,” which the City defines as “provid[ing] housing operation costs (including lease, maintenance, utilities, insurance, furnishings and master leasing) and support services at facilities that provide assistance to persons with HIV/AIDS and their families who live in the Dallas eligible metropolitan area.”
Facility-based housing funds are distributed to AIDS Services of Dallas, the Legacy Cares counseling center, and My Second Chance, Inc.
In addition, the HOPWA budget funds housing information services for people with AIDS ($150,000), housing placement ($97,400), and program administration ($238,000).
Other OHS expenses are funded by HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), including the Dallas R.E.A.L. Time Rapid Rehousing initiative ($238,782), which “provide[s] rapid re-housing services to persons who are homeless, including housing relocation and stabilization services, financial assistance, and rental assistance to move persons who are homeless quickly to permanent housing.”
The remaining funds from this grant go to subsidizing the operational costs of shelters and transitional housing facilities ($538,680), funding “direct services designed to meet the immediate needs” of the homeless ($177,682), and ESG administration ($89,000).
ESG funds are distributed to various nonprofits through a “competitive solicitation process.” In addition, the OHS spent $361,952 on administration costs for other programs.
In September, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved a $4.8 billion city budget for FY22-23 that increases OHS funding to over $14 million.
Of that funding, $645,000 will be spent on the new inter-departmental Homeless Action Response Team (HART), which the City says will respond to “immediate safety concerns around homeless encampments.”
Upon examining the OHS budget, it appears the City spends millions in rehousing and rental assistance, but offers no programs that help homeless and vagrant people find and maintain steady employment.
The Dallas Express contacted the City for clarification, but did not receive any information at the time of publication. What the Office of Homeless Solutions is doing is not working.
In San Antonio, the nonprofit Haven for Hope serves as a “one-stop shop” for those who are homeless.
In addition to providing food and shelter, Haven for Hope seeks to set people up for long-term success.
Steve Dane, director of the income and skills development department, told The Dallas Express that Haven for Hope teaches skills such as “teamwork, planning, [and] time management” and connects people who have been homeless to resources such as “medical job trainings or industrial job trainings to try to give people a career rather than just a job.”
Dane’s department helps people who have been living on the street learn how to write a resume, apply for a job, and interview for that job.
“What we’re really trying to do is get to the root cause, and a lot of that is lack of knowledge,” he said. “What we’re really looking to do is make sure that someone has the tools [for long-term success].”
Director of Communications Teri Behling told The Dallas Express that Haven for Hope has “a lot of success” with this approach.
“We have a lot of clients that are in those jobs [and] have learned they can shoot higher, and they have those skills to continue on,” she said. “Overall, almost 90% don’t return to the homeless system.”
When asked how many people obtain housing when they leave Haven for Hope, Behling said, “About 90% are still in that home a year later.”
“We will work with people [and] move them into the community,” Behling continued. “But the idea is to set them up with strong community resources so they can continue, whether it’s job searching or further training.”
The Dallas Express will continue to report on the spending and operations of the Dallas city government, including the Office of Homeless Solutions.
In typical government fashion, nothing is ever accomplished. We need an itemized accounting of where the money goes, primarily
to see all the administrators salaries, which everyone knows wii be exorbitant.
Dead weight will always be hard to carry.
Dallas doesn’t care about the homeless, all they care about is lining their pockets with taxpayer money. With no accountability.
Dead weight will always be hard to carry, let a homeless person come stay with you, FOR FREE, yeah I thought so.
Dallas county does nothing for the homeless steals there tents and blankets sad I’ve had to family members on the streets of Dallas for years all they do is make it harder on the homeless true story
Yes trying to help someone else is not bad Jesus Christ helps us all God Bless
It is obviously not cost effective to distribute money in so many directions with no control of the costs involved. Is anyone looking into San Antonio’s ONE STOP Service solution? If some of the budget was allocated to locating a site and findng the resources to put it into effect, eventually we will see some healing in the honeless community.
Dead weight will always be hard to carry.
Why doesn’t the Dallas Express say how much Haven for Hope spends on their program, where the funds come from and how many people it serves?
It is important to help people living with AIDS, but that’s an awful lot of money to spend in one demographic when the need for getting those who are living on the streets the help they need to become contributing citizens too. It is imperative that Dallas get those people off the streets. The size of this growing imperative in cities around the US demands national resolution. The cities taxpayers cannot pay the high price that resolution requires. There is simply not enough money in property taxes to pay for basic city services and sustainment of people who cannot support themselves.
Dead weight will always be hard to carry.
It’s some dead weight every where and it’s not all homeless God Bless
You mean the people who REFUSE to support themselves. Giving the homeless food and clothes and medical only bring in more homeless. Maybe every state needs to take several thousand acres and start their own tent city far away from any major city complex. take every panhandler to that location every day they are found on a city street.Have them grow their own food , etc. No reason not to keep the cities save, clean , and free of beggers.
The non-profit OurCalling, Inc. (www.ourcalling.org) works with the unsheltered (e.g., tents, cars, etc.) ministering to them and trying to get them off the streets. It is a Christian based program that has gotten 1394 people off the Dallas streets this year according to their presentation at a fund raise on Friday night (Nov 4th). They report working with about 60-70 new homeless people in Dallas each week (e.g., ones who were not homeless before and just became homeless).
Dead weight will always be hard to tote.
someone one is making money off of this non profit. The workers cannot work for free.
Dallas Life is an organization that provides the same services as San Antonio’s Haven for Hope. I have volunteered there and it is well known. I don’t understand why the author of this article did not investigate and report on what an awesome asset this organization is to Dallas. I am sure Dallas Life could use the funds and the monies would be well spent. Sad to say but I am sure this inflation will only increase the homelessness and is the root cause of the current increase.
I would be interested in knowing the admin costs
I can truly tell you there is a great possibility that this department is afraid of approaching the homeless due to extreme hostile behaviors. I work in downtown and deal with it on a daily basis. Not an easy task for sure to reach out to them. Some want to be out there. Others have mental issues. Yes help the HIV/AIDS. There are also Veterans, young homeless teens and young adults as well, handicapped. Police assistance is needed to enforce abiding by rules. We call for help and they don’t show up. I witnessed a pedestrian get attacked by a homeless vagrant on drugs and in self defense body slammed him to the ground, he called for help and no one showed up. Here the suggestions of the people who encounter this daily!
Everyone is not the same so don’t judge all homeless the same God Bless
I moved here from LA to get away from it, now its getting out of control here again. Anyone seen Forest and I-75 recently? Looks like any other overpass in Los Angeles. This has to stop now or it will get out of control. Need to cite people that give money to these individuals as well.